Langford Fire Rescue put out six fire in the last two days, five of which were caused by discarded cigarette butts.
Chris Aubrey, Langford Fire Rescue chief, said four of the fires took place on Wednesday with wind and dry ground being a factor.
“It’s been good for the last little bit and now all of a sudden we’ve had a spike,” Aubrey said. “It hasn’t gotten any wetter, it’s still dry, so it is disappointing that these incidents are on the rise.”
Aubrey said the fires took place in dry flowerbeds near businesses such as West Shore Town Centre and Costco. He suspects individuals are discarding lit cigarette butts before entering a business and a lack of ash trays outside the area causes people to toss them on the ground.
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Stomping on a cigarette butt or flicking the ash off it is not enough to extinguish it, Aubrey said.
“The heat is still there and if the wind picks it up it can blow into a combustible area like nearby grass,” Aubrey said.
He noted that anyone who lights a cigarette needs to have a plan in place to properly extinguish and dispose of it.
“The world is not a personal ashtray,” Aubrey said.
Incidents like these are typically a problem every summer, Aubrey said. But as the wildfire situation gets more intense, people begin to recognize how dangerous they are. These situations are more prevalent in early to late spring because people get in the habit of tossing their cigarette butts on the ground in the winter.
“Once we start seeing massive evacuations of homes it typically gets better,” Aubrey said. “People know they shouldn’t be doing it but shouldn’t be waiting until it gets dry to stop.”